Written by Asif Shahzad, Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam
Islamabad, February 8 (Reuters) – Pakistan The Ministry of Interior announced that it had temporarily suspended mobile phone services on Thursday to strengthen security as voting began in the national election.
The government’s decision is extremist attack In the run-up to elections and a day after former Prime Minister Imran Khan was jailed prompted After voting, his supporters will wait outside the polling station until the results are announced.
“Due to the loss of precious lives as a result of the recent terrorist incidents in the country, security measures are essential to maintain the law and order situation and deal with possible threats, hence mobile services across the country. temporarily suspended,” the Interior Ministry said. The ministry said in a message regarding X:
2 explosions On Wednesday, 26 people were killed near an election office in southwestern Balochistan province.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the explosion in a message on its Telegram channel. Several other groups, including the Islamist Pakistan Taliban (TTP) and separatist Baloch militants, also oppose the Pakistani state and have carried out attacks in recent months.
The country is on high alert, with tens of thousands of troops and militias on duty across the country, including at polling stations. Pakistan also announced that it would close its borders with Iran and Afghanistan on this day for security reasons.
informal first resultin the election A clearer picture is likely to emerge early on Friday, with the vote expected to arrive in the hours after voting closes at 5pm (12pm GMT).
of main contest is expected to be contested between the candidates supported by clan chiefthe Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which won the last national election, and three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N). considered the most likely candidate.
Bilawal Bhutto ZardariFormer Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s 35-year-old son is also running an aggressive campaign as an outside candidate for the top job.
Analysts say there may be no clear winner, but Pakistan’s powerful generals could play a role. Pakistan’s military has ruled the nuclear-armed state directly or indirectly for 76 years since independence, but in recent years has insisted it does not interfere in politics.
Columnist Abbas Nasir said: “The decisive factor is which side the powerful military and its security services will take.” “Only a huge vote in favor of PTI can change its fate.”
clan chief I believe in The military is behind the crackdown Analysts and opponents say Mr. Sharif has the backing of generals while trying to wipe out his party.
Two former prime ministers have been replaced since the last election in 2018. At the time, Mr. Khan was believed to be backed by the military, and Mr. Sharif was imprisoned on corruption charges.
“Historically, orchestrated electoral campaigns have not produced stability,” Nasir said, adding that “the economic challenges are so deep and profound, and the solutions so painful, that people come to power. I don’t know how people steady their ships,” he added.
If the election does not result in a clear majority, as analysts predict, multiple challenges It will be difficult – first and foremost, asking the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a new rescue program after the crisis. The current one will expire March.
Smaller parties could play an important role in forming the government, which requires 169 seats in the 336-member parliament. Voters directly elect 266 members, but there are 70 reserved seats (60 for women and 10 for non-Muslims), which are allocated according to the number of seats won by each party.
Many independent voters support Mr. Khan, and if he wins, he will be free to join any political party, so his fate after the vote could be greatly determined. Mr Khan said the candidate would not support Mr Sharif or Mr Bhutto Zardari.
(Reporting by Asif Shahzad and Gibran Peshimam; Additional reporting by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
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